Can tweeting about lunch and sex get you fired?


As anyone knows, I am not a fan of those on Facebook or Twitter who tell me about their lunch … unless it benefits me or others such as the restaurant is giving free food away or the food is making droves of people sick.

This lunchtime tweeting gaff in Salt Lake City became interesting because the questions it raises — it’s truly … ahem .. food for thought.

At approximately 10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 1, a Twitter message was posted on Utah’s award-winning TV news station @KTVX ABC 4 News:

I’m downtown eating. Surrounded by Mormons and repressed sexual energy.”

It was quickly deleted, but not before many Twitterers “retweeted” or responded to the message. By noon Saturday, there were more than 500 messages about the incident on Twitter. Many people like @thisismepurging of Salt Lake City thought it was funny. Monica Bielanko tweeted: “Take heed to those who tweet for work! But thanks for the laugh.”

Amanda Chamberlain, an entertainment reporter from rival KUTV2, even chimed in and wrote: “Being personal with tweets, I like it! haha.” Many people speculated that the person accidentally used the station’s Twitter account instead of the personal feed. @kslStephan, an online content and design director from another TV news competitor, admitted he too has accidentally tweeted on the station’s Twitter feed.

But there were some folks offended by the tweet from the trusted news station. “KTVX has talented staff that can eat, recognize religion / sexual energy, and alienate viewers all at the same time,” tweeted Tyler Whitaker, a technology officer in Utah.

After nearly three hours after the lunchtime tweet, the station finally sent an apology over its Twitter feed:

“A personal tweet went out that in no way is consistent with the station views. This issue has been addressed and we apologize for the tweet.”

KTVX General Manager Matt Jaquint confirmed to Salt Lake Tribune reporters — Sean Means and Vince Horiuchi — that the employee turned in a letter of resignation and station executives accepted it.

The issue won’t go away with the apology as KTVX is now facing mounting criticism from Twitter users who considered the employee dismissal a huge overreaction to an innocent mistake. “How ridiculous that the @ktvx employee quit or was forced to quit over this!” was message that was retweeted by many.

I asked Neal Schaffer, a Newport Beach social media consultant who also serves with me as an officer in the Social Media Club of Orange County, to share with me his advice on how avoid landing yourself in hot water. Hear my audioBoo interview with him.

Have you made a boo-boo in sending out the wrong message? How do you think the station handle the situation? Was KTVX justified in accepting the resignation?

Was it the right move to delete the tweet then send an apology? Or is there a more appropriate way to address the mistake? I’d love to hear what you think.